Radio becoming more a labor of love




By: Mike Austerman

On The RadioTroubles at media giant Clear Channel reached a fever pitch this week with strong speculation that the $26 billion deal to take the company private might be on the verge of falling apart. Behind all the recent financial wrangling and lawsuits that are trying to salvage funding for the biggest radio deal ever, there are thousands of Clear Channel employees wondering what their futures hold no matter what the final outcome is. The market value of the company took a severe hit this week in light of the turmoil, and many industry insiders predict more cost cutting soon, possibly along with the sale of more of the company’s radio stations in small and medium markets.

Locally there has been no indication of a sale of the company’s adult urban WMXD-FM (92.3), contemporary hits WKQI-FM (95.5), urban WJLB-FM (97.9), soft rock WNIC-FM (100.3), country WDTW-FM (106.7), sports WDFN-AM (1130) or talk WDTW-AM (1310). One could surmise, however, that the poor Michigan economy and the fact that the Detroit market is no longer one of the 10 largest in the country might be reasons to evaluate what stations would be considered core to Clear Channel’s operations should it decide to shrink the business.

With all the bad news seemingly throughout the radio industry, one thing has become clear — a career in radio is no longer more glamorous or secure than any other job. At least for now, choosing a career in radio requires a strong constitution and an even greater love of the work itself than ever before.

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Sara Fouracre, better known by her first name on the air, has signed on with sports WXYT-FM/AM (97.1/1270) to handle morning news and traffic reports but also to offer some female balance to the guy chatter of co-hosts Jay Towers and Bill McAllister.

“I’ve always respected Jay Towers as a radio personality, and I was a huge fan of the previous show that he and Bill McAllister hosted,” said Sara. “To work with them both now is a joy and an amazing opportunity.”

A native metro Detroiter, Sara is a graduate of Michigan State University and has spent 10 years in local morning radio, first at what was modern rocker WXDG-FM (105.1), then most recently with the Mojo in the Morning crew on WKQI-FM, where she co-hosted for eight years until being let go because of budget cuts in December.

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Radio One, which owns urban WHTD-FM (102.7), adult urban WDMK-FM (105.9) and talk WCHB-AM (1200), has changed its local management structure and dismissed general manager Carol Lawrence along with general sales manager Nancy Dymond in what appears to be another budgetary move. Radio One also announced the sale of Los Angeles FM station KRBV for $137.5 million, which prompted company President/ CEO Alfred C. Liggins III to comment: “This is an attractive transaction for Radio One, as it frees up capital and management resources which can be re-deployed to execute our long-term strategy. We expect to use the proceeds from this transaction to reduce our leverage, accelerate our Internet strategy and re-commence a limited buyback of our securities.” Was this a radio station that was sold or a fast-food restaurant?

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The proposed merger of satellite radio companies XM and Sirius took a big step closer to becoming reality last week when the U.S. Department of Justice approved what would become a monopoly should the Federal Communications Commission also give the green light. While the FCC is generally expected to also rule in favor of the merger sometime within the next month, what is not certain is if there will be conditions placed upon the combined service.

Subscribers to either service should be relieved to know that Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin, who will lead a combined Sirius/XM, promises that all current receivers will continue to be able to receive programming if the deal does get implemented.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the lineups on XM and Sirius once the inevitable paring down of redundant activities begins.

As an XM subscriber, I have mixed feelings about a merger. On the one hand, I look forward to being able to increase my access to sports play-by-play. But on the other, if they eliminate some of my favorite personalities or channels, it will be hard to accept that the move was in the best interest of consumers.

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Public radio WDET-FM (101.9) was recently honored by the Michigan Associated Press with awards for best spot news for coverage of the General Motors strike by Jerome Vaughn and Craig Fahle and for best news documentary for “Detroit 1967: A Turning Point,” A 13-part documentary series produced by the WDET news department commemorating the 40th anniversary of Detroit’s riot.

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Tom Wilson, of “Somewhere in Time,” features composer, lyricist and performer Noel Coward this evening at 6 p.m. on WMUZ-FM (103.5) and WRDT-AM (560). And if you’re taking the day off work tomorrow to watch the Tigers at Comerica Park on opening day, don’t forget your radio!

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Mike Austerman is the founder of and has covered radio for The Oakland Press since 2001.

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, March 30, 2008







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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on March 30, 2008 11:24 AM.

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Mid-Michigan: Newsmakers Mar 31, 2008 is the next entry in this blog.

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